HL Deb 17 July 1843 vol 70 cc1200-2
Lord Brougham

said that, generally speaking, he was the last person who would complain of a breach of privilege. He had been between thirty and forty years in Parliament, and he had never taken this course on more than one or two occasions, but if such matters as he had now to mention were allowed to pass without notice, he did not see how it was possible for Members of either House to bring forward measures which they conscientiously thought were for the public good. It appeared that a person of the name of William Brown was the printer of the Kendal Gazette, and he gave notice that on this day week he would move that this person be brought to their Lordships' bar. At the suggestion of the Master of the Rolls, he had lately presented the Declaratory Suits Bill, the object of which was to introduce into the law of this country a principle laid down by successive judges in Scotland; and the writer in the newspaper in question had asserted that his motive in propounding this measure was, that he might favour his own personal interests in an action about to be tried at the next assizes for Cumberland. This was what the writer had had the face to state, when the fact was that the bill was of a diametrically opposite character, as might be known to all the world, since it had been published in various newspapers. The charge was, that he had sought to introduce into the law of England the Scotch law of prescription, as regarded a possession of forty years (the term was, in fact, sixty years, but that was quite immaterial), which might be very convenient for those who had obtained possession of the estates of other people. As he and his ancestors had been in possession for centuries, he did not see how a prescription of forty years could be of much value, but, in fact, that provision had originated with a noble Friend while he sat on the woolsack. [Lord Cottenham: I am answerable for that.] That act gave the right after a much shorter term—forty years in one case, and twenty years in another — and nothing more erroneous could have entered into an ignorant or a malicious person's brain. The Declaratory Suits Bill had nothing in the world to do with length of possession, and it applied to a totally different flaw in the title, with which time had no connection, but would be as beneficial to a person out of possession as in possession. He would only add, that if Members of either House, in introducing measures on general principles and of a most extended nature, were actuated by the base and despicable motive of private and personal interest, they would be utterly unfit for their situations, and their measures unworthy of a moment's consideration. On this day week he would move that the printer of this scandalous libel, which was a gross breach of privilege, be brought to the bar of the House.

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